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I have been a good citizen and neighbor, holing up in my Koum Kapi apartment for two weeks now – as much to protect others from my possible contamination as to look after my own health. I had been out only once for 7 minutes to a food store five doors down from me. But today I not only began feeling the “call of the wild,” I began to realize if I didn’t get out and get some exercise, I would die from inaction rather than some nasty virus. My wife Oksana and I filled out the cards the government requires of anyone going outdoors, informing all who might stop us that we were taking a walk for the sake of our health, and we headed out. I’ll admit it, I was pooped by the time we got home. Two weeks of 9-second walks around my apartment had not prepared me for today’s 90-minute jaunt.
There were not many people out there, and everyone was pretty good at giving each other a wide berth when we passed each other. Some would see us coming and would cross the street to avoid us – or maybe I’m just looking frighteningly unkempt after two solid weeks at home…
First reactions: Chania is as beautiful as ever, empty or packed. You can’t hide that kind of beauty. But there is a sadness in the air that cannot be dispersed. People are suffering, either physically or mentally or financially. It’s true that Crete continues to be extraordinarily fortunate, with just eight cases of the virus and one death, but still, so many of our fellow citizens around the world are dying. It is devastating to see that happen. It is hard to know that all the shop owners in Chania, like those all over the world, are falling deeper and deeper into financial crisis, the longer this lockdown goes on. I’m not arguing against the lockdown – it’s what we must do to protect our selves and our neighbors. But that necessary step brings with it true hardship. So many of Chania’s store owners and restaurateurs have become personal friends in our time living here – I hate to see them put into such a difficult situation.
Today as I walked around I passed on mental hellos to all the friends and strangers who usually keep life rolling in Chania. May we beat this nasty, evil plague that is circling the globe today, and may our lives get back to normal soon. Wishing all readers the very best, wherever you may be. Stay healthy, and then come back to a healthy Chania. It will happen.
Text and photos Copyright John Freedman © 2020

An old coffee shop on Venizelou Street in Koum Kapi, frequented by the older local crowd when it’s open…
One of my true faves in Koum Kapi, Giannis Marinakis’s Machalas Restaurant, one of the oldest eateries in Chania. I walked by a few weeks ago and Giannis was out front painting tables, getting ready for the season – now mail is piling up on his front door. No telling how long I’ll have to wait to have the famous Machalas salad at this point…
Ble, or Blue, Restaurant, hanging picturesquely over the Sea of Crete in the Halepa neighborhood. Great service, great food, great atmosphere.
B> Guest closed down even before the lockdown – I hope it’s just for renovations and not for other problems. They serve a mean pork souvlaki and to-die-for desserts here.
Demek cafe – my wife and I call this the Artist’s cafe because there are some nice paintings hanging up- and downstairs.
A relatively new cafe in Koum Kapi, the name of which I’m not even sure… They serve a very nice breakfast though…
The usually packed Avli cafe in Koum Kapi looking quite forelorn.
The Debonair bistrot in Koum Kapi still looking spiffy, but empty…
The Mikro Coffee House in “cafe row” in Koum Kapi.
Coming upon the Koum Kapi neighborhood from the east side of Chania Old Town, one is greeted by an unthinkable sight – no cars, no people at all.
Who hasn’t stopped at Funky’s for a great piece of pizza!? Not these days, although you can order take out from their main outlet in the center of town.
Ta Neoria fish restaurant in the shadow of the actual Ta Neoria (right), the old dockyards on the east side of the port.
Salis restaurant on the east side of the Venetian port.
The famed Ta Chalkina restaurant where the finest Cretan music is almost always on display at evening time.
The Don Julio bar at mid-port, across from the lighthouse.
The Michalis and Palazzo restaurants beneath the old city walls on the port.
The west side of the Venetian port – empty.
Cafe Remezzo on the Venetian Port.
The popular Sintrivani and Thea coffee houses on the Venetian Port.
You’d have a hard time convincing my wife it’s true, but the Greek government has deemed that clothes stores are not essential, and must all be closed.
Some of the food dealers in the Agora (central marketplace) are allowed to remain open as essential sellers of food, but otherwise the usually bustling market is dead.